Australian Screen

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The Sydney Morning Herald (1911)

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clip Stereotyping at Fairfax education content clip 1, 2, 3

Original classification rating: not rated. This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

This clip shows two men at Fairfax creating a block for a page of the Sydney Morning Herald, then making a matrix from the type with the use of a stereotyping technique.

Curator’s notes

As this industrial documentary is silent, intertitles are used to explain what we are seeing and the methodology of the printing process.

Shot on 35-mm cellulose nitrate film, this clip has deteriorated overtime and scratches are visible.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip was filmed in 1911 and shows two men at the Sydney Morning Herald composing type for a newspaper page in a rectangular steel frame and then making a soft mould of the type as part of the stereotyping process. The black-and-white clip is silent and uses intertitles to introduce the key stages of production: 'MAKING UP THE PAGES’, 'STEREOTYPING’ and 'MAKING THE MATRIX FROM THE TYPE’.

Educational value points

  • The clip shows an aspect of the production of the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper in 1911, specifically the process of producing a matrix (mould) for a newspaper stereotype. A newspaper stereotype is a metal printing plate for a single page in the newspaper. Each stereotype is made by firstly placing the type columns, illustration plates and advertising plates of an individual page into a form (a rectangular steel frame) and locking them into place. A mat of papier-mâché, or similar material, is then moulded to the form. The dried mat is used as a mould to cast the stereotype from hot metal.
  • The footage is from an industrial documentary produced for the Commonwealth Government in 1911. Industrial documentaries were made when cinema was becoming a mass medium for information as well as entertainment and were screened in Australia and overseas. They were intended to show the progress Australia had made since European settlement. Intertitles, which were frequently used in silent cinema, were particularly useful in industrial documentaries, where the audience may not have been familiar with the technology or process being shown. Pathé, the producer of this documentary, also introduced newsreels that screened on a weekly basis.
  • The Sydney Morning Herald began as the Sydney Herald in 1831, when it comprised four pages and had a weekly print run of 750 copies. John Fairfax bought the newspaper in 1841, beginning a legacy that lasted almost 150 years. It was Fairfax who renamed the newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald. The newspaper went into receivership in 1990 with debts totalling $1.7 billion. After changes to its ownership structure, the Fairfax group was relisted as a public company on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1992.
  • The 35mm cellulose nitrate film used to shoot this documentary has become damaged over time. This type of film was first used as a base for photographic film by George Eastman in 1889 and was used for 35 mm motion pictures until the 1950s. Nitrate film is highly flammable and, as partially decomposed nitrate film can spontaneously ignite at temperatures as low as 49 degrees C, archival material shot on 35 mm nitrate film needs to be stored in controlled conditions and handled carefully in order to be preserved. Many films shot on cellulose nitrate have been lost or damaged.
  • The original Pathé logo of a crowing rooster, which features at the beginning of the clip, was used at the beginning of film reels to identify Pathé as the producer. Pathé was founded in France by the three Pathé brothers and became the largest film equipment and production company in the world. The company was listed on the Paris Stock Exchange in 1897, and in 1902 acquired the Lumière brothers’ patents to design its own improved film equipment and produce its own stock. The company captured a significant portion of the international market and expanded its production facilities and chain of cinemas to other cities throughout the world. It is estimated that prior to the First World War (1914–18), 60 per cent of all films were shot with Pathé equipment.

This clip starts approximately 7 minutes into the documentary.

In this silent clip two men compose type for a newspaper page in a rectangular steel frame and then make a soft mould of the type as part of the stereotyping process. The following intertitles introduce the key stages of production:

Making up the pages

Stereotyping

Making the matrix from the type

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australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions.

When you access australianscreen you agree that:

  • You may retrieve materials for information only.
  • You may download materials for your personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes, but you must not publish them elsewhere or redistribute clips in any way.
  • You may embed the clip for non-commercial educational purposes including for use on a school intranet site or a school resource catalogue.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

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ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

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